Justina paves the way for female inclusion in STEM

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Justina Chua (12) attends a women in tech convention.

Justina’s eyes light up as she talks about the software and hardware workshops that computer science club at VHHS has. Arduino, Python — she lists off many platforms that the club uses, while I try to keep up with the whirlwind of names and explanations. 

It’s clear she knows what she’s talking about and has experience. Chua is the current president of Vernon Hills’s Computer Science Club, has attended a women in STEM summit at Stanford, and is an active member of Varsity Robotics. 

Her leadership skills in comp sci club don’t go unnoticed. 

“She’s willing to help and also willing to connect with people, and I think that’s why she makes a great president,” Hannah Liu (11), a member of the computer science club, said. 

Anna Thomas (12), a fellow member on Varsity Robotics, called her driven and hardworking. 

Chua tells me that she took her first computer science class the summer after her freshman year, and prior to, had no interest in comp sci. 

“I began to take an interest in how creative it was,” she said.  

After her first class, she began to be more involved in and out of school. Chua began to become involved in multiple events specifically centered on women in STEM, including the Stanford XI++ Summit, NC Wit, and Built by Girls. 

“It was really cool to be surrounded by all these women who I can look up to and be inspired by,” she said. 

She explained how this summer, she got an internship at State Farm building front and back end code for their website, and how she was frequently the only girl in the room. Chua said she felt like she had to try harder to make a name for herself as if she hadn’t earned her internship the same way everyone in the room did — by applying and interviewing. 

I asked her why it’s important for there to be diversity in STEM, especially for female-identifying students. 

“I think it’s really important because technology is the future; it doesn’t make sense for it to be like really one-sided, because those who essentially create the tech are the ones who kind of lead the world,” Chua said. “It’s important for people of all genders and races to be able to have a say in that matter.”